As a lifelong Reagan Republican, I was so excited last year when this primary season started last year. So many candidates, so much youth, talent, and enthusiasm on the GOP side this year, and the Democrats were stuck with two seventy year olds and three unknowns! I had no doubt that they would eventually nominate Hillary Clinton, based ultimately on "well, she's waited and it's her turn" (we saw how well that worked out for the GOP with Dole, McCain, and Romney, right?) and also the whole "She's a woman, let's vote for history!" tactic that did work so well for Barack Obama in 2008. As I looked at the Republican field, I saw sixteen talented and qualified individuals who were articulate and passionate, and I realized that we had a dozen candidates who would be able to beat Hillary Clinton, easily! I was so excited for the year to come, I couldn't wait to see which one would come out on top and carry our banner in November 2016.
Then there was Donald Trump. At first I treated his candidacy as a bad joke - surely no one would actually support this unqualified, narcissistic windbag, would they? And then I watched, in amusement at first, and then in horror, as this misogynistic bigot racked up wins in state after state after state. Never mind that he never gave us the specifics of any of the stuff that he wanted to do, never mind his juvenile tantrums and name calling, never mind some of the frankly terrifying things he proposed doing in terms of foreign policy and our Constitution, and never mind the fact that he managed to alienate the three constituencies Republicans desperately need to gain ground with (women, Hispanics, and blacks) every time he opened his mouth. He was going to "make America great again!" somehow, and despite his lack of any single realistic idea of how to do that, the Tea Party masses bought it hook, line, and sinker. One by one the better candidates were spurned, and we wound up nominating the one man who makes Hillary Clinton seem likable and reasonable by comparison. Nothing he has done since winning the nomination has given me any faith that he knows what he is doing. I was crushed, and I made up my mind then and there that I would NEVER soil my ballot with this man's name, PERIOD.
Then there is the Democratic nominee. Never mind the fact that I am opposed to so many Democratic policies and ideas that I can't even list them all - from their embrace of anti-police thugs, to their worship of homosexuality and their infatuation with legalized infanticide (abortion), not to mention their sheer hatred of those who succeed economically - even if I was inclined towards leftism, I would still have a hard time embracing Hillary Clinton as a candidate. There is a slimy trail of corruption and scandal that has followed the Clintons throughout their political careers, starting in Arkansas forty years ago. And, of course, Hillary Clinton was tasked with carrying out the foreign policy of Barack Obama for four years, a policy that has alienated our allies, emboldened our enemies, and left America more weak and isolated than we have been at any point since the 1930's. Then, she capped it off with the Benghazi episode. While I don't fall into the extreme camp of political accusations ("She murdered Ambassador Stevens!" - Really? That's a ridiculous assertion.), it's pretty evident that she lied about the causes of the attack, and the delay in sending aid to our embassy was inexcusable. Long story short, I'd rather gnaw my arm off than vote for Hillary Clinton.
So what's a Reagan conservative to do in such a fix? I cannot, in good conscience, support EITHER candidate. Then I got to thinking - why do I have to support either? I am over thirty-five years of age, I am a natural born U.S. citizen, I am a proud veteran of the U.S. Navy, I have taught government for fifteen years, and I am a lifelong student of the Presidency. I know how the job works, I know why great Presidents have succeeded and lesser ones have failed. I understand the world as only a historian can. I recognize the necessity of compromise as well as the importance of having high standards. In short, I am just as qualified as many of the men and women who ran in the early primary season. So why not vote for myself?
Then I thought - why not encourage others to do the same? There are many principled conservatives like me out there, who cannot abide the thought of Donald Trump soiling the house where Lincoln and Reagan once lived, and yet are ideologically incapable of supporting Hillary Clinton either. Doesn't the "None of the Above" crowd deserve a voice too? If a billionaire real estate developer with the morals of an alley cat can run for President, why can't a schoolteacher, pastor, and novelist?
So I am hereby announcing my candidacy for President of the United States. No, my name won't be on the ballot, but there is a space for a write-in, so use it! I already have over a hundred supporters. Fifty million more, and we're there! Join me, my friends! #smith2016 is our rallying cry! It's time to school America!